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Effects Pedals

Billy K.

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Being a musician myself, there is a tendency to analyze things when at a concert---be it technique or be it equipment....this brings to mind the latter.....

Since I was not at any of the shows, I was just curious about the effects pedals....from listening to the 'berries' music, it appears that the group probably uses the least amount of effects of any group around.

My guess is that the guys didn't go to the "stompboxes" much, if at all.....any observations on this?

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This is a tough one as hosskratz stated Wally has really never used foot pedals. I will try to keep my answer short and to the point.

When the band got back together the decision to purchase the Vox Valvetronix amps was made for a coupe of reasons (1) was the look that it would give the band on stage (in the beginning 71-73 we always used matching amps on stage) and (2) the Vox amps were modeling amps that had the capability to produce many sounds that were only possible in the studio. I can say that in the beginning we were not real happy with the initial results. Wally as a purist was using old Fender amps that gave an incredible sound and the Vox just was not cutting it. We had a rep from Vox come in and help us to properly set up the amps about 2 weeks into rehearsals and it made quite a difference. I can’t say that Wally loves the amp, but he does accept it for it’s flexibility. It has a capability of 32 preset sounds that can be accessed from the amp or foot pedal. Wally uses about four. The pedal also allows for a change in sound for lead rifts and what I think is one of the best thing about the pedal is a built-in tuner, great for Wally and me.

What everyone needs to realize is in today’s world of electronic guitars & amps the capabilities are endless. For instance, Eric’s Line 6 Variax guitars are modeling guitars which can simulate about 20 different guitars and with the modeling amp who knows what sounds the combinations could produce.

I do not think we will ever see Wally playing one guitar such as the Variax modeling guitar. The actual sound of the Rickenbacker, Parker, Double Neck Gibson SG, and Flying V maybe close but impossible to recreate so he will continue to use those guitars to get THE SOUND. As far as effects pedals, Wally does not use them for anything but making changes on the amp, which are preset bass, treble and gain settings and to cue a lead. I have been working with him for over 35 years and he has never used an effects pedal, it all comes from his fingers moving on these classic guitars. Wally is a true rock and roll guitar player and in my opinion the best in the world. Believe me that is not friendship talking, try to find a guitar player that can play Wally’s parts on guitar. Its not going to happen. I don’t know anyone who can do the things that he does on the guitar.

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I can understand where Wally is coming from, when using a variety of guitars. There is a certain feel and sound to each of them. I think the Variax would, despite the tonal options, drive me totally bonkers playing it.

As for the pickups on the various guitars, my guess is pretty much the stock factory on the Rick and the 12-string side of the double-neck.

But what about the 6-string half, and the pickups on the V? Stock, or hot-rodded?

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One thing that most people(even guitarists) don't realize is the technique of SWITCHING NECKS on a doubleneck.Wally is EXTREMELY smooth at this.In some instances you are not only switching necks, but moving a toggle to turn off one neck, and a pickup selector, volume, and possibly a tone knob also,maybe throw in a floor switch to solo, all in a split second! Paul Sidoti is also very good at this.Believe me it is quite a challenge.Especially

when you are playing the doubleneck,I always said its like "Trying to play a garage door".I own one, and have been giving a solid half hour a day on this technique.Its a challenge for sure!

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Not only is switching between the 6 string and 12 string necks with volume, tone and pick up choices very difficult, Wally's many years of practice allows him to perform the task better than anyone I know. The shear size and weight of the double neck has to be brought into the picture (it is a monster) and restringing and tuning that beast is no easy task.

Just think, prior to a show I have to tune a total of 72 strings on the guitars that Wally uses for each show including back ups. Then Eric uses 2 guitars for the show and 2 back ups (24 strings), Dave has 2 bass guitars (8 strings), Billy uses 4 guitars (23 strings, 23 is not a typo) and Paul uses 5 (36 strings) for a grand total of 155 strings to be tuned. And hopefully, no one breaks a string during the show which creates more confusion.

Thankfully, most of the time Billy and Paul have been tuning their own guitars and even helping me with Wally's. You have no idea how much I appreciate their help (and I do tell them) as just prior to show time it gets a little crazy.

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Yeah, Roadie #3 is correct. And the string winding cranks that people normally use to put on strings work fine on SOME of the strings of the double-neck....but not all...then you have to do some of the ones where the necks are really close, by hand...and really gives you a wrist a workout.

And volume/tone adjustment can be a problem. You have everything all set right, and then you can easily hit one of the switches by accident in the middle of the song--where something is TOO loud, or ends up totally silent.

As for Billy having 23 strings---does that mean that he does the Keith Richards thing and have alternate tuning with just five strings on one of the guitars??

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Rodie #3, what kind of strings does Wally use on the 12-string guitars?

My personal preferences for the strings on the 12-strings are GHS boomers, the 0.009 set, and the oddball .0095 set on the 6-string side. Tried a couple of other brands(D'Addario and Ernie Ball), but kept coming back to the GHS.

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We are using Dean Markley strings on all of Wally's electric guitars. On the 6 strings we use .009-.011-.016-.026-.036-.046 on the 12 strings we use .009/.009-.011/.011-.016/.009-.026/.013-.036/.020-.046/.026 Additionally, when I completely restring the Rick I will use their factory set (when I can get them) which consists of .010/.010-.013/.013-.020/.010-.026/.013-.034/.020-.042/.026. Wally seems to like the lighter gauge due to the way he bends the strings. However, the lighter gauge does not last as long and requires replacement more often. The plus side is that after sound checks we normally change out the .009 and .011 strings on all the guiters he will use which so far has resulted in NO broken strings during the shows. It may seem to be a little overkill and waste of good strings, but nothing is worse than breaking a string in the middle of a performance.

On the 12 string we use a combination of wound and plain strings. Wally is not as picky as he used to be. Eric uses the .010 set and at times Wally has used those on some of the 6 strings. Eric seems to like the Ernie Ball Regular Slinky.

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Roadie, the problem I had with the Ernie Ball 12-string sets was the low E string. If I used the set starting with the .009 , the low E string is a bit too wide for the groove in the nut. Of course going to the .008 set you not only have the problem of breakage, but also less sustain on the high notes.

So, the choice was to either have someone modify the guitar, or go back to the GHS. And may I mention, this is on the Epiphone version of the SG double-neck, so possibly a few differences between the Korea-made and the US-made versions.

On the D'Addarios, they work fine when you get a good set, but there is a quality control issue with them. They have this thing called the "environmental pack", where all the strings are in one envelope, to save paper, instead of having a separate evelope for each string.

Problem is, half the time I get too many of one gauge of sting and not enough of another. Which is SO frustrating.

And if you are ever playing a small town, more often enough, the D'Addario is the only 12-string electric string those small stores happen to carry.

Word to the wise---when playing an E-12, bring a bunch of your favorites strings.

And it is certainly worth the cost and effort to restring the guitars before every show. Good point!

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I haven't had any problems with the low E or for that matter any of the strings. If I can remember correctly I think I did some work on the nut in the late 60's. But being an old fart I really can not be certain. Maybe, it’s because most of Wally's guitars are vintage models and were painstakingly made by hand by real guitar craftsman. You know, they don't build them like that anymore.

And as far as bringing strings, I always have at least 2 dozen matched sets and about 200 loose strings of various gauges in my tech kit. It is refurbished with new strings before each show, therefore I have no excuses regarding not having strings or the right ones. I can say "its not a job, its an adventure".

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Roadie #3, I figured as much that you would carry the extra strings....but I thought I'd make a public service announcement in case anyone wanted to buy a double-neck, Rick, or any kind of electric using 12-strings. At some point, there will probably be someone fired up with enthusiasm for the 'berries and may buy one on a whim.

I have not played the Markleys. But when I do go out and get some guitars(forced to sell them all), I'll try the Markleys just to check them out.

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I used Markleys for years.until lately.even after

a few hours, my hands looked like I just worked on my car.I went back to Ernie Ball(I also get an endorsement "discount"...they keep sending me strings by the brick) and they have been great,they last, and dont seem to be as brittle.

as for resringing the Doubleneck, I came up with a longer shank crank so you can still speed wind the

high 6 strings, as well as the low 3 on the 6 neck.

it makes life a bit easier.

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R3 et al:

This is a great thread.

I, too, was at the Chicago show and typically spend a lot of time scoping out rigs and set ups, etc., but I was too much in "shock and awe" from the music and seeing the guys to take visual notes beyond the guitars being used. Just as well!

I'm not surprised that the Vox modeling amps needed a visit from the rep. They're really cool but have you ever seen how many are out there on Ebay? They're almost TOO available. And recently Vox has started offered the Tronix stuff at even _lower_ price points. Seems like they should be fixing the higher price stuff first ... at least to me.

I'd still love to try one for an extended period, though.

It's like the Line 6 AM4 amp modeler stomp box I have; Wally has found about 4 settings on the Vox amp that are usable; I'd say the same for the AM4 pedal; a few of 'em work really well, the rest I can't figure out or get past sqwuaking. Fortunately for me the Vox AC30 tone is one I can get cranked pretty well through a Peavey Classic 30. One of these days: a real AC30? I wish...

R3: did Wally consder going with a straight Vox AC30 or somesuch for these gigs?

I've also had good luck with Markleys, though I could be pursuaded to switch them out if I had a "brick" of Ball's dropped my way like Danny!

R3: one last Q: I guess Eric like the Varimaxes; any insight on how he's using them and how they're holding up.

As for me -- So much gear ... so little time ... and talent!


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Regarding the Vox amps; between the day gig and rehearsals I don't think Wally has had a lot of time to experiment with the amp. I beleive at this point he likes it but is it his favorite, that is questionable. One of the things about the reunion tour is that the guys wanted the live sound to be better than the records (CD's) and to do that it I think it takes more than the standard amp and that is why the modeling amps are so useful. I am not sure why they purchased the Vox AD 120 heads and 412 cabinets but the decision was made very early and they seem to be very happy with that decision.

Having strings provided by manufacturers make decisions on what to use very simple. However, if Wally ever told me to use a certain make of strings that would be the end of it. If Wally is happy then I am happy.

Eric loves the Variax guitars and prefers playing them to his Fender Strat’s or the Rickenbacker. Billy Sullivan is sold 100% on the Variax and uses two of them during the show. As far as problems, we did encounter some with the acoustic model and had to exchange it. Additionally, I think they need to work on their EL/DI foot pedals. As far as the settings, he is still playing with them as there seems so much to do between the versatility of the Variax guitars and the electronic keyboards there never seems to be enough time to experiment.

One last thing to note; Billy also uses a Line 6 Vetta Combo modeling amp that he loves. One thing that Line 6 offers is the capability to download new amp models to the Vetta Combo via computer the Vox does not have that capability at this time.

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Continued fascinating insights.

Hey: if the goal of using the Vox Valvetronix amps was to make the "live sound better than the records" then the experiment IS a success!

If the guys are happy -- I'm ecstatic!

And I agree that simply finding the TIME to noodle through modeled effects' capabilities is a huge challenge. Fun when you get there, though.

And I'm not dumping on Vox: I have a Pathfinder 15R that is a fabulous little amp. I've even seen "real" guitarists mic them at gigs.

And thanks for the tip on the Line 6 Vetta ... downloadable amp model updates ... hmmmmmm....

Gotta go -- outta TIME!

Any other info, R3, would be richly appreciated. The gear geeks on the board will soak it up!



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We use three (3) keyboards on stage.

Eric uses a Roland Fantom X8 which is a very versatile keyboard that allows him to simulate many of the sounds that were created both onstage and in the studio. In the 70’s we carried 2 mellotron keyboards that were loaded with tapes of different instruments. They were big, bulky and a pain in the butt to program. The X8 keyboard blows that technology away with expansion ports for different sounds and its rather lightweight. The keyboard has so many capabilities for different sounds sometimes I have seen Eric working for an hour just to find the right combination. I believe with time to really get into this amazing keyboard Eric will do some great things both for current tunes and composing new music. On a couple of tunes, Jen can be seen playing this keyboard.

Paul uses two (2) keyboards the first being a Roland X88 and secondly a Yamaha MOTIF 8 Synthesizer. The Roland is very much like the 8X that Eric uses with a little less electronic capability and the Yamaha has a remarkable piano sound. Jen also plays the Yamaha on a couple of tunes.

As for mikes; we use whatever the venue provides. One of the keys to playing the HOB venues is that they have very good sound systems with top notch equipment. You can check out the keyboards at the Roland and Yamaha websites and if you are really into the production stuff, HOB has a listing of all their backline and FOH equipment for each venue on their website.

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